Widowed woodblock artist Hokusai meets Onao and falls madly in love with her, but she disappears suddenly. One day, his daughter brings home a young girl who looks exactly like Onao. Using the girl as his muse, he reconnects to his youth when he painted his masterpiece, the gigantic octopus and the beauty seduced.This is a biographical movie which follows the struggles of Edo-era artist Hokusai from his poorest beginnings to his famed accomplishments, including his notorious libidinous drawings. Though risque in much of what is depicts, this comes across as a straight-forward jidai-geki exploring a well-known historical figure’s life and obsessions.
This story is based on the novel “Jo No Mai” by Tomiko Miyao which is based on the life of painter Shōen Uemura (1875–1949), the first woman to be awarded the Order of Culture. The title refers to the masterpiece bijinga (“picture of a beautiful woman”) that Uemura painted at the age of 61. The main character, Tsuya Shimamura, is born in Kyoto as the second daughter of a tea trader who dies before her birth. Tsuya, who loves painting more than anything and is hopeless at housework, attends art school and at age 15 receives the name Shōsui (from the characters for “pine” and “green”) from her teacher. The crown prince of England purchases one of her works, propelling her to fame overnight. The novel portrays the remainder of her stormy life, during which she is impregnated by her teacher and raises a fatherless child; through it all she devotes herself to her painting, undaunted.
Utamaro was an artist who lived in Edo (which was later to become modern-day Tokyo) in the late 18th century. This film, which has a complex and wide-ranging storyline, recreates the world of that time, as it appeared in Utamaro’s paintings.
An orphan, whose father has been killed by dark power, attempts to bring justice back to the town. Continue reading